Japanese pressing of the standard version of the album. Apple. 2006.
It begins with a twittering of birdsong lifted from "Across the Universe." And once the triple-tracked a capella harmonies of "Because" enter, followed by snatches from "A Hard Day's Night" and "The End," leading into a fired-up "Get Back," it becomes obvious that this is far more than just another Beatles compilation. This is Love
, conceived by the Fabs' former producer George Martin and son Giles as a stageshow soundtrack to Cirque de Soleil's Las Vegas spectacular of the same name, but appears to have taken on a life of its own. Whereas the Beatles' last release, 1
, delivered the (over?) familiar hits in a nice, simple package, Love
is a mélange of the familiar and obscure, all literally mixed together in one 78-minute audio collage which succeeds in reminding the listener just why the Beatles truly are, as Lennon put it, "toppermost of the poppermost." There's no new Beatles material per se, but the songs are all approached differently--some are cut together in a flawlessly mixed medley (check out "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!/I Want You/Helter Skelter"), some reassemble different backing tracks and vocal performances to create new spins on old classics; but all the songs are revitalized considerably. Even in its weakest moments (which probably work better in the context of the show itself), Love
is still a formidable prospect, and one has to admire Martin's willingness to go out on a limb with such a project. While purists may complain that the cut 'n' paste nature of the project is simply tampering with perfection, at the very least it'll make them reach for the originals and enjoy them all over again. For newcomers and everyone else, it makes a fine listen, both in its sonic clarity (the actual tracks are the best they've sounded on CD) and audacious nature. --Thom Allott
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